Health | KCUR

Health

KCUR's health team focuses on health issues and their impact in Missouri and Kansas. Working with journalists at other public media stations and news outlets, reporters Dan Margolies and Alex Smith strive to bring listeners and readers timely, accurate and comprehensive coverage of a topic that leaves no one untouched.

Centers for Disease Control

There are 76 million Americans who were born between the mid-40s and the mid-60s. The Baby Boomers have much of the wealth, much of the power, much of the responsibility in our nation today. But, they also now have the highest suicide rate among all age groups. Guest host Brian Ellison talks with Kansas City Star reporter Rick Montgomery about this alarming statistic and how the rate in Kansas has skyrocketed in the last few years.

Yoga Master Max Strom

Jun 12, 2014
www.maxstrom.com

There is no app for happiness. So reads the title of Max Strom's new book that examines what holds us back from being happier people. Turns out that one big obstacle is technology, which has only made many of us more depressed, anxious, sleep deprived and over-medicated. On Thursday's Up to Date Steve Kraske talks with the yoga master about how inner calm and self-awareness can help people cope with the stress our devices bring.

vaXzine / Flickr Creative Commons

If you’ve got a shooting pain in your back that won’t quit or nagging, achy knees, you might be one of millions of Americans who suffer from chronic pain.

On Tuesday's Up to Date, Steve Kraske sits down with Judy Foreman to discuss her new book, A Nation in Pain. We'll get to the bottom of why our society fails to fully treat nearly 100 million Americans who live with chronic pain.

Guest:

public domain / Wikimedia Commons

Aristotle said, "We are what we repeatedly do. Excellence, then, is not an act, but a habit." 

But making excellence a habit is easier said than done. For most people, the word habit evokes thoughts of junk food or television, not excellence.

Psychologist Bruce Liese stopped by Central Standard to talk about the ins and outs of habit formation, and help us recognize the difference between a good habit and a bad one. He offered advice on getting to the root causes of our most deeply ingrained patterns and offered insight into the common problem of relapse. 

Emily Whitty / Submitted photo

If your allergies seem more severe this year in Kansas City, you're not alone.

That's according to Dr. Jay Portnoy, who leads the allergy and asthma department at Children's Mercy Hospital.

"We've been tracking pollen for 15 years in the Kansas City area and over that time, the pollen count has been slowly increasing," Portnoy says. "Each year is getting a little bit worse."  

On Thursday, Portnoy explained to Up To Date Host Steve Kraske that the day's tree pollen count was only 529, but two weeks ago, it hit an all-time high of 9,000.

Missouri spends the least on public health per person in the country, according to a new report out from the non-partisan Trust for America's Health. 

The Show-Me state spent just $5.86 per person, compared with a national average of $27.49, in fiscal 2013, the report says.

Google Commons

A doctor looking to help a patient prescribes a medication for a condition it was not originally marketed to treat. How legal, and how risky the off-label use of prescription drugs?On Thursday's Up To Date  Steve Kraske talks with a pharmacist about just how common this practice is among physicians and why drug companies don’t market their products for multiple uses.  

Guest:

Rick Couldry is Director of Pharmacy at the University of Kansas Hospital. 

Exercise As A Cure-All

Apr 29, 2014

One doctor says he has the ultimate cure-all— and it’s not from a pharmacy.

On Tuesday's Up to Date, we examine the “exercise cure” and how it seems to decrease disease and improve general health.

Guest:

In the final weeks of the legislative session, Missouri Gov. Jay Nixon has made a last-ditch effort to resurrect a push to expand Missouri’s Medicaid program and accept roughly $2 billion a year in federal money.

The governor, a Democrat, unveiled his “Missouri Health Works’’ program before business leaders Monday in Cape Girardeau. By coincidence or design, state House Speaker Tim Jones, R-Eureka and an opponent of Medicaid expansion, was also in Cape on Monday with conservative low-tax icon Grover Norquist to highlight a different issue.

Autism Insurance Bill Heads To Kansas Governor

Apr 7, 2014

A bill awaiting Kansas Governor Sam Brownback’s signature would require health insurance sold in the state to include coverage for autism services--at least in a limited fashion. 

The bill sent to the governor last week includes coverage for Applied Behavioral Analysis. 

Representative John Rubin, of Shawnee, guided the bill through the House.  He says research shows ABA is the most effective form of therapy for a majority of kids with autism, but it needs to start in the preschool years…

United Network for Organ Sharing

In the Midwest, the supply of organs for patients who need transplants to live is relatively strong.  But, that’s not the case in many locations across the country.

Currently, donated organs are distributed through local and regional networks, but there is talk of changing that system to one that basically puts everyone on equal footing.

The fifth annual County Health Rankings are out, and the parts of Kansas that have struggled in prior years are still at the bottom of the list.

The rankings provide a clear picture of just how much health depends on social factors like poverty and education.

Johnson County tops the list again this year as the healthiest county in Kansas. Dr. Gianfranco Pezzino, of the Kansas Health Institute, says it’s more than just coincidence that the Kansas City suburb is also the state’s wealthiest county.

Examining The Reality Of Eating Disorders

Mar 10, 2014
Brent Weichsel / Creative Commons

We eat every day and most of us enjoy it. It satiates our hunger, and provides us with nutrition and complex and pleasurable flavors and textures. But for some people eating can become the center of an obsession, an inescapable part of the date filled with anxiety. Eating disorders impact 2.7 percent of population, according the National Institute of Mental Health, but the problem extends far beyond the struggling individual.

Conquering Broadway And MS

Feb 25, 2014
Beth Lipoff / KCUR

Jennifer Holliday, the original "Dreamgirl," has known a lot of good times and some rough ones, too. 

She became a star on Broadway in the production of Dreamgirls, but in the years since, she's depression and faced an ongoing struggle with multiple sclerosis.

On Tuesday's Up to Date, we talk with her about about her music, her life and why they call her “The Queen of Broadway Gospel.”

Guest:

Shari Hartbauer / Lincoln Journal Star

It’s one thing for a doctor to counsel a seriously-ill patient about how to deal with his illness and how to face the idea of death. But imagine going from being the doctor to being the patient.

The legislative committee charged with overseeing state building projects today added money to next year’s budget to help the University of Kansas fund construction of a $75 million classroom building on its Kansas City, Kan. campus.

The Joint Committee on State Building Construction voted to add $1.4 million to the fiscal 2015 budget to help pay for bonds that will be issued to fund the project.  The plan is for the state to contribute $15 million over time to help finance up to $35 million in construction bonds.

Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius visited Kansas City Monday morning, drumming up interest in Obamacare.

In the first segment of Monday's Up to Date, Steve Kraske talks with the head of Healthcare Foundation of Greater Kansas City about insurance available through the Affordable Care Act and ongoing efforts to connect people to it.

Guest:

  • Dr. Bridget McCandless, president and CEO, Healthcare Foundation of Greater Kansas City

joncandy / Flickr-CC

Three years ago, a Spring Hill High football player collapsed on the field after a stunning play. The cause? Brain hemorrhaging due to a concussion that went unrecognized and untreated. With sports-related brain injuries on the rise, many are calling for major safety reforms and a new approach to handle the problem. 

On Thursday's Up to Date, we discuss how the approach to these types of concussions is changing and check in with the experts who are leading the culture shift in concussion treatment.

A pre-Christmas outbreak of vomiting and diarrhea that sickened almost 300 people in southwest Kansas was caused by norovirus, according to state health officials.

The outbreak has been linked to a Jimmy John's sandwich restaurant in Garden City.

As of Jan. 3, 282 people who ate at the restaurant between Dec. 10 and Dec. 24 reported becoming ill—most of them within 72 hours of eating at Jimmy John’s.

The restaurant voluntarily closed from Dec. 24 through Dec. 26 for a thorough cleaning and disinfection.

The Midwest Transplant Network

A Lee’s Summit, Mo., woman will be remembered in a special way at Wednesday’s Rose Parade in Pasadena, Calif. Lezlie McLendon’s family hopes the memorial will send a message to others  about the benefit of organ donation.

The family says it not only saves lives, but helps those grieving.

Lezlie McLendon was driving with her sister earlier this year when she suddenly passed out. Her sister got her out of the car and tried to administer CPR, but Lezlie’s cardiac arrest left her in a coma she never woke up from.

At 45, Lezlie had never been seriously ill.

Andy Marso/Facebook

Bacterial meningitis has been in the news recently, with outbreaks at Princeton University and the University of California, Santa Barbara. But nine years ago, it made local headlines when a University of Kansas student became seriously ill with the disease overnight.

In the second part of Wednesday's Up to Date, we talk with that student, now a reporter in Topeka, about the disabling effects of the disease and how it's changed his life.

Guest:

Hey Paul Studios / flickr Creative Commons

It began when Abraham Lincoln declared that in gratitude for the Union Army’s victory at Gettysburg, the fourth Thursday in November would henceforth be a national day of Thanksgiving. We would come to add the familiar stories and imagery of pilgrims and native Americans, the tradition of a harvest feast, but the celebration’s purpose from the start was in its name.

Rchristie/Flickr-CC

It wasn’t until the second half of the 20th century that expectant parents could see and hear their baby through means of ultrasound and Doppler. With those advances also came a dramatic change in how we view early pregnancy loss.

In the first part of Tuesday's Up to Date, we talk with a historian of women’s health about the impact of technology on first trimester miscarriages and how what was once considered an abnormal period is now the lossof a baby.

National Cancer Institute

When we talk about breast cancer, much of the conversation often centers on treatments such as chemotherapy and mastectomies. But once the cancer’s gone, patients still have a long recovery ahead.

On Thursday's Up to Date, we talk about how reconstructive surgery options have changed and the new options available to women that can help them retain core muscles.

Guests:

National Budget Battle Threatens Medical Research

Oct 1, 2013
courtesy of AACR

Maddie Major shouldn’t be alive today. The eight-year-old girl has been fighting a form of leukemia since she was three. Robyn Major, Maddie’s mother, says in spite of chemotherapy, radiation, and even a bone  marrow transplant, Maddie’s cancer kept coming back. 

“In August of 2012, she relapsed for the second time,” says Robyn Major. "It was at that time that we realized conventional therapies weren’t going to offer a cure for Maddie.”

Study Says Kansas City Hospital Prices 'Unusually High'

Sep 16, 2013

A new study shows that the prices private insurers pay to hospitals vary widely. Not only that, they're much higher than what Medicare pays — especially in Kansas City.

The study, done by the non-profit Center for Studying Health System Change, reviewed actual claims paid for more than $500,000 auto workers and their families in 13 Midwestern metropolitan areas.

Finding The Philadelphia Chromosome

Jul 29, 2013

Developing a medicine that attacks the genes of a disease may seem like science fiction, but it’s already been done.

Voidxor / Wikimedia--CC

The REACH Healthcare Foundation recently released the Kansas City Regional Health Assessment, that analyzes health data from the area from 2000 to 2011, and offers a forecast of what’s in the future for health in Kansas City.

"The poverty rate has been increasing in the metropolitan area, and generally it's been especially increasing in suburban areas," says author and Government Innovations Forum Director for the Mid America Regional Council, Dean Katnerdahl. "So there's sort of a suburbanization of poverty."

The Emotional Side Of Medicine

Jul 11, 2013

Doctor's aren't always objective--or perfect-- when prescribing treatments.

'Marijuanamerica'

Jun 30, 2013

From the crackdowns on the drug in the 1950s and ’60s to its legalization for recreational use in two states last year, marijuana has a complicated past in America.

Some have called marijuana legalization the next big civil rights issue. Colorado and Washington have officially said it’s okay, and 19 other states allow it to be used for medical reasons.

But some big debates about the drug certainly persist. What exactly are the health consequences of using marijuana? What kind of impact is it having on our society? Should we be banning it or legalizing it in more states?

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